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Look to the skies over HHD for paratroopers

The Nebraska Army National Guard will be landing at Husker Harvest Days.

Mindy Ward, Editor, Missouri Ruralist

August 18, 2023

4 Min Read
Nebraska Army National Guard paratroopers parachuting down from the sky
LANDING ZONE: Husker Harvest Days will be the landing site of the Nebraska Army National Guard on Sept. 13, as paratroopers float from the sky to conduct a battle demonstration.Nebraska Army National Guard

The skies above the Husker Harvest Days site may look like a movie set or your favorite video game as soldiers jump from Army helicopters onto a cornfield. But don’t be fooled — these are real soldiers conducting battlefield training.

The Nebraska Army National Guard will visit Husker Harvest Days at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sept. 13. Visitors to the show will be able to see the battalion’s unique role it provides to the U.S. military, says Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Heimes of the Nebraska Army National Guard.

Weather permitting, the battalion plans for two airborne insertions from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, which is the largest helicopter in the Army. There will be four soldiers exiting four times for each event.

“Once these soldiers get on the ground, they will consolidate at a collection point, and then they’ll move out into tactical formation toward the crowd,” Heimes says.

The soldiers will be in pursuit of a pseudo enemy force on the ground.

“The soldiers will engage that enemy and demonstrate one of our simpler battle drills for the crowd on the ground,” Heimes explains, “and then potentially do an [exfiltration], leaving the engagement area with the CH-47.”

Building battalion

This unit of the Nebraska Army National Guard is a unique force structure, according to 1st Sgt. Jeremy Borrell.

“There’s only one other unit like ours in the Army National Guard,” he explains, “an airborne infantry battalion in Texas.”

The Nebraska unit started four years ago with around 80 personnel and quickly grew. Today, Borrell says about 400 individuals serve in Nebraska’s battalion with five companies.

While most members are from the state, there is an uptick of interest by soldiers across the country.

“There are limited opportunities for soldiers to be in the National Guard and have the ability to be a paratrooper as well,” Heimes says. “So, it definitely helps us draw people not only from within our state, but outside of the state as well. We are pretty lucky in that regard.”

There is room for up to 600 trained paratroopers. That’s one reason the Nebraska Army National Guard is highlighting its program at the show.

Sharing their passion

Paratroopers will be on the grounds for a meet-and-greet with show visitors after the demonstration. This new unit, Borrell points out, might spur interest from young people looking for careers after high school.

“There are some really incredible opportunities right here in the state of Nebraska for young men and women to get involved with the Nebraska Army National Guard to not only put themselves in a position to reap the benefits that come with participation in the U.S. Army National Guard, but also do something that’s incredibly unique and challenging,” he says, “and will provide them with an incredible life experience.”

Borrell speaks from experience having enlisted 20 years ago.

“I look back at having made that decision many years ago, and now I can certainly say that is one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. I want others to know this opportunity exists.”

To see and learn more about the Nebraska Army National Guard firsthand, attend the demonstrations Sept. 13 on the south end of the showgrounds. Then stick around to visit with some of its elite paratroopers.

Other National State battalion to offer displays

The Nebraska Army National Guard is one of the most popular exhibits at Husker Harvest Days.

Guard members and their displays will be stationed near the southwest entrance of Husker Harvest Days showgrounds. Visitors will be able to look up close at U.S. military vehicles, including a UH-72 Lakota helicopter, a firetruck and a large display of military weaponry.

Another exhibit the National Guard hopes to have on display is a STEM trailer, to show attendees how the Nebraska Army National Guard fits into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines that make up STEM curricula.

There will be a couple virtual-reality items, as well as a station where showgoers will be able to build and program a mini robot. Visitors will also be able to drive and control an Explosive Ordnance Disposal robot.

The Nebraska National Guard also will have freebies such as yardsticks, towels or hats so visitors aren’t leaving empty-handed.

Visit the Nebraska Army National Guard display to learn more about the equipment guard members deploy in their duties and how the guard helps protect our nation and support Nebraskans in need.

About the Author(s)

Mindy Ward

Editor, Missouri Ruralist

Mindy resides on a small farm just outside of Holstein, Mo, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis.

After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism, she worked briefly at a public relations firm in Kansas City. Her husband’s career led the couple north to Minnesota.

There, she reported on large-scale production of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and dairy, as well as, biofuels for The Land. After 10 years, the couple returned to Missouri and she began covering agriculture in the Show-Me State.

“In all my 15 years of writing about agriculture, I have found some of the most progressive thinkers are farmers,” she says. “They are constantly searching for ways to do more with less, improve their land and leave their legacy to the next generation.”

Mindy and her husband, Stacy, together with their daughters, Elisa and Cassidy, operate Showtime Farms in southern Warren County. The family spends a great deal of time caring for and showing Dorset, Oxford and crossbred sheep.

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